A convicted fraudster, who admitted to conning hundreds of people in a complex pension fraud, has been sentenced to jail.
Simon John Colfer, 51, from Llanelli, Wales, was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years.
An application was also submitted to seize his assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
According to Tarian – the Regional Organised Crime Unit, a multi-disciplinary team of police officers and police staff in Wales, Colfer fronted a company named Fortitude Trading under a false name, Simon Davies, due to his previous record for fraud.
Colfer's company relied on pension holders, many of whom were experiencing financial difficulties, searching the internet for pension transfer options.
Having entered their details online, Colfer would then contact the pension holder with the promise that they would receive a cash lump sum of up to 25 per cent of the transfer value if they transferred using his services.
They were not aware that there would be a tax consequence of 40 to 55 per cent.
While his customers were plunged in to further financial hardship – all have since received tax demands from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as a result of the transfer deals – Colfer exploited their vulnerability to fund a lavish lifestyle, which included gambling vast amounts of money and living in Spain up until he was charged for his crimes, Tarian stated.
Due to his previous sentence, Colfer was bankrupt and subject to a £1.7m confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
His fraud, involving almost 800 victims, was uncovered following his release from prison in September 2010, after Dyfed Powys Police revisited the confiscation order and sought the investigative assistance of Tarian Regional Organised Crime Unit.
A search of his rented address in Bridgend uncovered a safe containing £91,000 cash and high value memorabilia, including limited edition Grogg statues.
Colfer was arrested in October 2013, alongside his partner Patricia Andrews.
Following a complex investigation, which spanned five years and involved overseas enquiries in countries including Gibraltar, Spain, Portugal, Belize, the Caribbean and the Isle of Man, as well as all over the UK, both were charged in 2016 with a number of fraud and money laundering offences.
Both appeared at Swansea Crown Court last month, when Colfer – who previously denied the charges against him – changed his plea to guilty.
Andrews was acquitted of all charges.
Stuart Slyman, member of Tarian's Regional Asset Recovery team, said Tarian will now proceed to recover all property acquired by criminality.
He said: "This case also reinforces the old adage, 'If it looks too good to be true, it usually is'.
"Schemes with a promise of a cash sum for transferring a pension, such as the one set up by Colfer, break the pension rules and will incur the severe tax penalties described.
"These schemes should be avoided at all costs.
"Anyone looking to transfer a pension should seek the advice of a professional Independent financial adviser – the legitimacy and status of whom can be checked online by searching the Financial Services register.